10 Best & 10 Worst States for Poor Kids to Live In: Is Yours on the List?

Judy Dutton | Sep 8, 2015 Parenting News
10 Best & 10 Worst States for Poor Kids to Live In: Is Yours on the List?

helping kidAll kids deserve the chance to grow up happy, healthy, educated, and gainfully employed so they don't just languish in your basement -- it's the quintessential American dream! Yet a new study by WalletHub offers a sobering reality check: Certain states do a better job at helping underprivileged kids than others.

By comparing the welfare of kids using 15 key child welfare metrics -- culling statistics on poverty levels, infant mortality, child abuse, and otherwise -- researchers came up with a list of the 10 best states for struggling families ... as well as the 10 worst. Read on to see if your state made the cut or failed abysmally at watching those little ones!


Image via Nadezhda1906/shutterstock

  • 1. Best -- Hew Hampshire


    Image via Joseph Sohm/shutterstock

    This small northeastern state ranked #1 overall and specifically for child health, based on factors ranging from infant mortality rates to health insurance coverage. So kids with medical problems need not fear; they are in good hands here.

  • 2. Best -- New Jersey


    Image via Pincasso/shutterstock

    The Garden State takes good care of underprivileged kids, ranking #2 in child health and overall.

  • 3. Best -- Minnesota


    Image via Dmitry Kaminsky/shutterstock

    The North Star State came in third overall and for children's "early foundations and economic well-being" -- a fancy umbrella term scrutinizing the percentage of kids living at poverty level, in foster care, in single parent homes, or in other less-than-desirable circumstances.

  • 4. Best -- Connecticut


    Image via Rainer Lesniewski/shutterstock

    The Nutmeg State ranked #3 in health care for kids. It also ranked among the top five for lowest percentage of kids in poverty-level homes.

    More from The Stir: 10 Best & Worst States for Raising Kids: Is Yours on the List?

  • 5. Best -- North Dakota


    Image via Jiri Flogel/shutterstock

    In this northern state, no child gets left behind: North Dakota ranks #2 in educational opportunities for kids, a statistic based on the quality of public school systems, high school graduation rates, and how many of those kids land jobs.

  • 6. Best -- Wisconsin


    Image via gguy/shutterstock

    Wisconsin ranks #1 in education for kids -- so if you want to instill a love of learning, here's where you want to go!

  • 7. Best -- Utah


    Image via Josemaria Toscano/shutterstock

    Let's hear it for Utah! The state ranks #1 for "early foundations and economic well-being," which means kids who are struggling financially don't slip through the cracks.

  • 8. Best -- Iowa


    Image via Yuriy Boyko/shutterstock

    The Hawkeye State not only ranks #8 overall for helping underprivileged kids, but those interventions start as soon as they're born: The state boasts the lowest infant morality rate throughout the U.S.

    More from The Stir: 10 Best & Worst States to Raise a Girl: Is Yours on the List?

  • 9. Best -- Massachusetts


    Image via Yuriy Boyko/shutterstock

    Massachusetts not only made it into the top ten overall, but also ranked among the top five for infant mortality and feeding hungry kids.

  • 10. Best -- Virginia


    Image via EBPhoto/shutterstock

    Virginia not only ranks among the top ten overall for assisting kids in trouble, but made the top five for helping kids avoid hunger and mistreatment (in terms of child abuse or otherwise).

  • 1. Worst -- Washington, D.C.


    Image via Orhan Cam/shutterstock

    Sadly, our nation's capital is terrible at taking care of underprivileged kids. It ranked last (51st) in education and economic well-being and among the worst five states for children who struggle with hunger, mistreatment, poverty, or homelessness, or who live in foster care. Yikes!

  • 2. Worst -- Mississippi


    Image via Joseph Sohm/shutterstock



    Turns out "The Hospitality State" ain't so hospitable to kids. It ranks last in health care with the highest infant death rate across the U.S.

    More from The Stir: 10 Best & Worst States to Live in If You're a Working Mom

  • 3. Worst -- Arizona


    Image via John Hoffman/shutterstock

    The Grand Canyon State also boasts a huge rift between rich and poor kids. It ranks third worst in child welfare overall and second only to Washington, D.C., in children's economic well-being.

  • 4. Worst -- Georgia


    Image via Serge Skiba/shutterstock

    The Peach State isn't so peachy about caring for its kids, ranking fourth worst overall and among the worst five for filling kids' hungry bellies.

  • 5. Worst -- New Mexico


    Image via Gustavo Frazao/shutterstock

    "The Land of Enchantment" isn't so enchanting for underprivileged kids: It not only ranks fifth worst overall, but is among the worst five for kids below poverty level and in single-parent families.

  • 6. Worst -- Louisiana


    Image via Mike Flippo/shutterstock

    Kids may associate this state with Mardi Gras fun, but it ranks sixth worst for struggling kids overall and among the worst five for infant mortality and kids at poverty level or in single-parent families.

    More from The Stir: 10 Best & Worst States for Schools -- Is Yours on the List?

  • 7. Worst -- Florida


    Image via Jorg Hackemann/shutterstock

    Things aren't so sunny for underprivileged kids in the Sunshine State, which ranks seventh worst overall and among the worst for economic well-being.

  • 8. Worst -- South Carolina


    Image via Katherine Welles/shutterstock

    Coming in eighth worst overall is South Carolina, which also ranks among the five worst for single-parent families. Yet there is one upside: The state also ranks among the five best for homelessness.

  • 9. Worst -- Arkansas


    Image via Jiri Flogel/shutterstock

    This state's nickname, "The Land of Opportunity," is woefully off base: It ranks among the top ten worst for letting kids fall through the cracks.

  • 10. Worst -- Alabama


    Image via Dmitry Kaminsky/shutterstock

    Rounding out the top ten worst states for underprivileged kids is Alabama, which also has a high infant morality rate. All in all, we see a whole lot of southern states fare poorly on this front, with kids doing better north of the Mason-Dixon line. Maybe it's time to move north?

    More from The Stir: 10 States That Vaccinate the Most & the Least -- Is Yours on the List?

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